Course CodeVHT104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

What is aromatherapy?

Aroma therapy involves using scented oils derived from herbs for therapeutic purposes.
Some of these affects may be very subtle and mild; and relatively safe for anyone to practice; but others can be dangerous if not applied properly and in an appropriate situation.
This course helps you to understand not only what these extracts can be used for, and how they are used; but also the dangers to be avoided, and the situations that may require a higher level of experience and training.
Examples of aromatherapy include: massage with scented oils, washing with scented soaps and taking scented baths, or scenting the air with fragrant candles, atomisers, or potpourri.

This course is aimed at the introductory level of education in Aromatherapy. It is suitable for those wishing to gain knowledge of using Aromatherapy in the home or for those working in a related discipline.

Knowing the botanical names of plants and how they are derived is an important part of Aromatherapy. Most people know essential oils by their common names, such as Lavender, Thyme or Eucalyptus. For instance, there are several different types of plant that are commonly known as Lavender, and more than one of these plants are used to produce lavender oil. Oil distilled from True Lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, is the highest quality lavender oil. However, lavender can also be distilled from Lavandula x intermedia and Lavandula latifolia. All three smell very similar, and can even be confusing for an experienced aromatherapist, but the chemical composition of Lavandula angustifolia is far superior to the other two species and is a much better therapeutic oil.


Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification
    • Understand the classification system used for naming plants and to be able to identify the family, genus and species names of plants used to produce essential oils. Define aromatherapy and its history, to understand how aromatherapy works, and the basic chemistry behind it.
  2. Introduction to Aromatherapy
    • To define aromatherapy and its history and to understand how aromatherapy works, and the basic chemistry behind it
  3. Essential Oils
    • Identify a range of essential oils, their uses and contraindications
  4. Safe Use of Essential Oils
    • Ensure that essential oils are used in a safe and controlled manner.
  5. Carriers
    • Identify what can be used as a carrier for essential oils and why they must be used.
  6. Growing and Harvesting Herbs for Essential Oil
    • Identify methods which can be used to grow, and harvest herbs used in essential oil production.
  7. Methods of Extraction
    • Identify methods used to extract essential oils from plants.
  8. Hazardous Herbs and Oils
    • Identify herbs and oils acknowledged as hazardous to people, and which should not be used in aromatherapy, or with great care.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What You Will Do

  • Undertake brief written report on what you understand about how plants are named
  • Give the scientific names of ten different plants from which essential oils are derived.
  • Give a brief summary of your knowledge of aromatherapy and essential oils.
  • Understand how herbs are promoted to the public in order to sell them.
  • Write an essay on the history of aromatherapy and essential oil use.
  • Suggest different blends that can be used for insomnia and other complaints
  • Suggest different blends that can be used for treating a head cold.
  • Discuss a range of oils that would be suitable for a travel kit
  • Understand the use of aromatherapy for children.- List a range of oils that would be considered safe to use for children.
  • Write a short essay on ways in which essential oils can be used.
  • Understand the use of essential oils on animals
  • List a range of types of vegetable oils appropriate for use in massage and indicate what types of skin the oils are good for
  • Submit the bath oil blends from a Set Task along with instructions on how to use them in the bath and what conditions they are good for.
  • Understand why some herbs tend to be collected in the morning, some before flowering, some during flowering, and others at various times of the year. What impact does this have on the essential oil?
  • From catalogues collected, explain why some oils cost more others.
  • Discuss different methods of oil extraction and list their benefits and disadvantages.
  • Comprehend what is the difference between an essential oil and an aromatic oil
  • Compile a detailed costing for processing herb materials to produce essential oils.
  • List a range of essential oils that are not safe for use in aromatherapy.
  • Discuss how essential oils can be used safely and ways in which they should not be used.
  • Understand which essential oils may not be safe for use during pregnancy.

Examples of herbs that may be used

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) - antiseptic, breathe fumes to clear sinuses and ease chest infections

Garlic (Allium sativum) – antibacterial, reduces blood pressure, aids breathing

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) – settles stomach, anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, reduces blood toxins, treats colds

Lavender (Lavandula spp.) – relaxant, aids sleep, antibacterial, antiseptic, heals skin conditions, relieves pain

Lemon (Citrus limonum) - antibacterial, soothes colds and influenza symptoms, assists immune system

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) - relaxant, calms nerves, alleviates headaches, treats cold sores and viruses

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) - aids with digestion, relieves headaches, soothes pain

Pot Marigold (Calendula officinalis) - antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, heals wounds, soothes skin irritations and mouth sores

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) - lowers blood pressure, improves concentration, reduces fatigue, aids hair and scalp health

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) - antiseptic, antifungal, soothes pain, treats insect bites, calms acne and skin conditions

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) - decongestant, soothes sore throats, treatment of coughs and colds, diarrhoea, antiseptic, treatment of cuts

How are Herbs Prepared for Use?

There are many different ways of preparing herbs for aromatherapy. Here are some examples:

Herbal Decoctions

A decoction is made from boiling the harder parts of plants such as bark, stems, seeds or roots. You should always research the plant part you intend to use to make sure it is not poisonous. For instance, peach and apricot stones contain traces of amygdalin which is a form of cyanide. The parts of many Australian natives need very careful preparation to reduce toxicity.

1) Add about 25-30g (0.88-1 ounce or 1/4 to 1/8th cup) of dried herbs to a saucepan.
2) Pour over one litre of water.
3) Place on stove and bring to the boil.
4) Reduce heat to simmer for around half an hour.
5) Strain, allow to cool, and then refrigerate in a sealed container.


  • Try pouring boiling water over dried herbs and allowing to stand overnight for stronger oils.
  • Experiment with different combinations of herbs.
  • Discard leftover decoctions and teas after one week.
  • Don't use plant parts which have recently been sprayed with pesticides.


Making your own herbal ointment or balm can be very enjoyable and if you have children it's something they love to get involved in. You can make ointments to soothe stings and bites, cut and grazes, or for dry irritable skin. 

1) Heat some water in a saucepan so that it is simmering and not boiling.
2) Add 1 cup (250ml) of vegetable oil (e.g. olive, jojoba, almond) and 1/2 cup of dried herbs of your choice (or more for fresh herbs) to a bowl.
3) Place the bowl on top of the saucepan so that it fits snugly but does not touch the water.
4) Leave for 20-30 minutes.
5) Strain the oil to remove herb parts and return to bowl.
6) Add 3 tablespoons of beeswax to the oil.
7) Allow the wax to melt but not boil.
8) Gently stir contents with a wooden spatula to mix ingredients.
9) Remove bowl and pour ointment into jars.
10) Allow to cool, then seal and refrigerate.


  • Use a glass or Pyrex bowl so that no contaminants leach into the ointment. 
  • Buy a purpose-made double boiler.
  • Use more beeswax to create a thicker ointment which can be used as a lip balm.
  • Put date labels on your ointments and dispose of after 6 months or if they deteriorate.

Extra Books or Reference Materials

  • The course provides you with everything that you need to complete it successfully.
  • Assignments may ask you to look for extra information (eg. by contacting nurseries, visiting gardens or searching the internet), but our school's resources and tutors are always available as a back up. If you hit a "roadblock", we can quickly send you additional information or provide expert advice over the phone or email; to keep you moving in your studies.
  • Some students choose to buy additional references, to take their learning beyond what is essential for the course. If a student wants to buy books, we operate an online bookshop offering ebooks written by staff at the school. Student discounts are available if you are studying with us. The range of e books available is being expanded rapidly, with at least one new ebook being written and published by our staff every month. See



  • Anyone who wants to develop a deeper and more serious understanding of aromatherapy
  • Herb growers, herb manufacturers or herb traders
  • Crafts people - candle makers, soap makers, etc
  • Herb farmers, nurserymen, gardeners and landscapers




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